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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

About two-thirds of service-sector workers said they could not take leave, or took less leave than they wanted, when they experienced a major life event, according to a Harvard and UC San Francisco study released today. Within this group, 71% said the reason was they couldn’t afford to.

Why it matters: Part of President Biden’s American Families Plan provides 12 weeks of guaranteed paid family and sick leave to workers, marking the first time that a U.S. president has introduced a national-level paid leave program.

By the numbers: The study, which Axios is first to report, shows exactly how difficult it was for low-income workers to think about taking time off in the fall of 2020 — whether for a personal medical need, caregiving, new child or a combination of qualifying events.

  • Men (38%) were more likely than women (28%) to say they didn't take leave or as much as they would have liked to out of fear that they would lose their jobs.
  • Hispanic workers (53%) and Black workers (49%) were the most likely to say they felt pressure to avoid taking time off or fear job loss compared with white workers (39%).
  • The survey covered 8,500 of those who worked for 85 of the largest companies across retail, grocery, delivery and fulfillment and food service, including Walmart, Target and Starbucks.
  • The median wage of workers surveyed was $12.75 per hour.

What they're saying: The study is among the first to document the extent to which paid leave is inaccessible among front-line low-wage workers, researchers Elaine Zundl, Julia Goodman and Daniel Schneider tell Axios.

The bottom line: Making the case for paid leave, financially fragile workers "are serving food and going hungry," Schneider says.

Go deeper

America's job openings hit new record in April

Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

There was a record 9.3 million open jobs in America in April, according to new government data out Tuesday.

Why it matters: As the economy made strides to a full reopening, new gigs opened up faster than companies could hire for them. What's more, a record number of Americans quit their jobs — a sign that workers are confident there's better, higher-paying work elsewhere.

Hospital suspends 178 staff for not complying with COVID vaccine mandate

The Houston Methodist Hospital at the Texas Medical Center campus in Houston. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Houston Methodist Hospital on Tuesday suspended 178 employees without pay for 14 days for failing to comply with its COVID-19 vaccine requirement.

Driving the news: The Texas hospital's CEO, Marc Boom, said in a message to staff shared with Axios that 24,947 workers had been vaccinated against the virus by Monday's deadline. 27 of those who didn't get fully vaccinated "have received one dose ... so I am hopeful they will get their second doses soon," Boom said.

America's nursing homes fight to find enough caregivers

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Skilled nursing and assisted living facilities across the country are having trouble hiring enough caregivers, and many have turned to perks like referral bonuses and transportation to lure more talent.

The big picture: The industry historically grappled with high employee turnover for its lower-skilled jobs. But now nursing facilities are facing reputational hits from the pandemic and a red hot market for minimum wage workers.